Piloting without a manual

Remember that webcast/podcast idea I talked about a few months back? No? Well, I don’t blame you. I haven’t really been talking about it, because the logistics were a nightmare, but now…

…Now we have our pilot episode recorded and aired! That’s right, Muses and Murderers podcast (the webcast/video portion is on hold until I get a better setup) is officially started. It had some hiccups, it had some bumps, it had some awkward silences, but it’s live and ready to listen to!

I learned quite a bit in the process as we winged it today with a three-way call, a voice recording app, and a slew of other apps to make the recording work for sharing to a podcast app. Apps. Have I said “apps” enough? After today’s session, I know a few steps I can use to shorten the time and process from recording to publication, so that’s good. Because three hours to get a less-than-hour-long episode aired is a bit much. Lol

One thing that I’m grateful for as I went through the interview today was my experiences with Talk Nerdy With Us. Those phone interviews when I was with them made me more comfortable with the interview process today. I’ve listened through the whole podcast, and it sounds pretty good for a first time thing. I mean, I’ve interviewed people over the phone on behalf of Talk Nerdy and I’ve been on podcasts and webcasts, but this was my first time “running the show,” so it was an interesting experience.

First interview down, many, many still to set up and record. I’m hoping to get some done next weekend, now that I know how it will go and how to get it done. I’ll get some emails out in the coming days, set up some taping times….but I’m feeling much better about it.

We’re gonna do this thing.

We’re gonna do awesome things with this thing.

To Sleep… Perchance to Dream

I’m not quite sure what woke me. I don’t recall hearing anything unusual, but it’s certainly not normal for me to wake in the middle of the night like this.

I stop and listen, my eyes fixed on the ceiling. The sounds all seem normal. The shadows all seem normal… except….

I roll out of bed to see a single, menacing eye staring at me through my window. I try to scream, but a voice that is not my own comes out instead and says, “The pact is sealed.”

Pact? What pact? And who said that? I want to ask the eye who it is, who spoke for me, what’s going on, but I can’t move.

“Excellent, Kiyyah. You have done well.” The giant red eye bobs with its speech, so I can only assume it’s attached to a head of some sort, though from the glowing veins, the black sclera, and the scaly lids I’m not certain what kind of head it belongs to, or if I even want to know.

My body bends at the waist, bowing deep, and it’s then that I notice blood dripping to the floor from my clenched fists. Dark red rivulets ooze down my hot pink sweatpants, staining the leopard print slippers on my feet.

“Is there anything else you require of me, my master?” It’s my mouth moving again, but the words still aren’t mine.

“Just one final thing,” the eye says, and the corners of its lids crinkle a little. Is it… smiling?

I’m not prepared for the entity that was inhabiting me to be wrenched out. I’m not prepared for any of this, but the slow, agonizing ripping sensation is something I can’t much describe, let alone prepare for. Bloody hands aside, my body remains intact, but the scream that wouldn’t come finally finds my lips and fills the room.

A shriveled old woman falls from my body, almost like she’d been living inside and gotten evicted. Foam bubbles from her mouth as she writhes in agony, her screams joining my own for a scant few seconds before she falls still.

My second act back in control of my body, once I’ve screamed my throat raw, is to heave up the remainder of my dinner. The dead old lady doesn’t smell any more appealing than she looks, and I can’t take the stench.

The giant eye blinks a slow, eerie blink before it speaks again. “Hmm. It appears Kiyyah didn’t check your constitution as thoroughly as she should have.” A low rumble sounds, and it takes me a second to realize that the eye is laughing. “Shall I bring her back and punish her properly?”

I wipe the back of my bloody hand across my mouth to clean off the vomit. “N-no…I think she learned her lesson.”

“And what about you, child? What lesson have you learned this night?”

I look at my hands, still bleeding from deep, jagged cuts, and at Kiyyah’s still form. I’m still not sure what’s going on, I’m not even sure this is real, but I somehow know that whatever I’ve gotten into, there’s no getting out. I clear my throat, straighten my back, and look my new master in the eye.

“I live to serve, Master.”

Hail Mary, Mother of Death

As I trek through the jungle, sweat oozing from every pore, I come upon the most macabre relic I’ve ever seen. Carved from a rose-colored marble, the veins in the stone remind me of rivers of blood, and her sanguine smile sends chills down my spine despite the heat. After years of searching, I’ve found her.

I’ve found the Bloody Mary.

It all began with a local legend that piqued my interest when I was on my last dig, a legend of a Catholic artifact that predated the Mayans who had built the ruins in which I now stood. Madre de los Muertos she was called; Mother of the Dead. The legend, which had been translated by my guide and companion, Jesus Rodriguez, told of a curse that accompanied the Virgin Mary and followed any who laid eyes on her.

The curse hadn’t been what intrigued me, though; what really grabbed my attention, the driving force behind the last decade of my life, was the archaeology of it. Madre de los Muertos, if she was as old as legend claimed, should not exist. She was a mystery, an anachronism, a thing out of place and out of time, and now she was mine.

My white whale stares at me with red-veined eyes, her arms outstretched. She is pristine, immaculate, untouched by the encroaching jungle. My pulse quickens at the sight of her, a virgin statue left unmolested for centuries–millennia, if the legend was true. I reach out with a shaking hand, eager to be the first to claim her as my own.

Before my fingers meet the rouge marble, a rustling from the thick network of vines behind me draws my attention. I turn and peer into the foliage in search of what animal may be lurking–or what form of man. My hand stops, retreats, reaches for the pistol tucked into the waistband of my khakis. If someone has followed me in the hopes of stealing my find, I’ll send them to meet the Mother of the Dead in person.

No movement catches my eye, and once again the jungle falls silent.

I return to my treasure, confident that I am alone, and caress her smooth facade. My hands roam over the whole of her, from top to bottom, and I can find no cracks, no chips, not a single flaw in her smooth, delicate features.

Perhaps the legend was a fake; I find it hard to believe that any statue, no matter how well-constructed, could stand the test of time and face the elements and still come out this intact. There should be cracking and crumbling, degradation and decay. The jungle should have taken her beauty centuries ago.

The thought brings me back to reality, and I look again at the vines that surround, but do not touch, the statue. The surrounding ruins are thick with them, every surface covered, save for a meter-wide berth given to Mary. Upon inspection, I see no trace of blade marks on the undergrowth. Odd. I myself had cut a path to the relic. Now the intertwining leaves and vines make a perfect circle, a fence of dead vegetation trapping me within its branches.

I crouch next to the nearest vine and draw my machete across its surface. A thin white scar appears on the branch for a moment, then vanishes.

A more superstitious person may have theorized that the vines regenerated, but I know that can’t be it. How can dead matter regenerate, after all? I wipe sticky sweat from my brow and stand back up. A drink from my canteen does nothing to sate my sudden thirst, leaving me parched.

As I turn back to my prize, I find myself nose-to-nose with Bloody Mary. I try to take a step back, but the vines, though they have not moved, are somehow closer, higher, thicker, preventing me from retreat. My breath quickens as my heart now thumps in my chest. Mary’s arms stretch out to either side of me, and I am left with nowhere to go.

I press my hand against Mary’s breast, trying to push back and give myself room, and my heart skips a beat before my pulse returns to its rapid-fire palpitations.

The stone, so cold and hard, is now soft, warm, pliable. Alive.

Before I can react, Mary’s arms wrap around me and pull me to her. I look into her bloodshot eyes and see my reflection in their gleam. The red-veined marble blinks once, twice, and the smile twists and deforms into a snarl. She embraces me tighter, and the air is forced from my lungs.

I gasp for breath and push against the woman holding me, but she is as strong as the marble she was carved from. My vision tunnels as I’m squeezed ever tighter, and I realize that the Mother of the Dead has claimed me as one of her children.

Split decisions

My book, our book, my book, our book…which one should I work on more?

Ideally, I’d have enough inspiration for both books. However, right now Book 3 is eluding me, so I have to get my writing fixes in whenever my co-author sends me her latest chapter. Unfortunately, I have so much inspiration for the collaboration book that it takes me at most a day to write and send back my chapter. Then I’m left for days trying to think up how to progress the story on Book 3.

Splitting my creative energy between two books has proven difficult for me. I don’t know how some authors can work on a multitude of projects at once. I can throw in a short story or poem or flash piece while I’m working on a novel-length project, but multiple novels at once? I guess I’m not that talented. Lol

I’m going to try to get at least a few paragraphs written in Book 3 this morning. I’ve gotta regain momentum on that project, because Book 2 is in edits at the moment, and if I don’t write I’ll go nuts.

My problem is this: I have tons of ideas for further on in the book, but the point I’m at now is stalled. I have to write in order, for the most part. Sure, I can go back in revisions and add a chapter here or there out of order, then change things to make it fit, but writing the story out of order in the first draft? That would just be wrong.

Maybe I’ll retcon some of what I’ve already written and restart that part. I could be moving the plot too quickly, and maybe that’s why things don’t feel “right.” And who knows? Maybe I’ll find my groove again if I just go back and start over from the beginning of Chapter 2. (Yes, I’m that badly stalled.) Yeah, that’s what I’ll do. Back up and restart in a different direction.

Time to get some more coffee and get typing. 🙂

Like minds

So the collaboration I’ve been talking about? It’s going great! I already knew that I had a lot in common with the other author, but we’re really getting into a rhythm here with this story that’s coming out of nowhere. It’s going very paranormal horror. I’m digging the story so far.

To give credit where it’s due, she wrote the prologue, which was originally intended as a short story. Well, we got to talking about how alike we are, and next thing you know we’re turning that prologue into a cool story.

Our minds seem to sync up with each other. It’s almost creepy how we just come up with similar plotlines independent of each other. And this is someone I’ve never spoken to in person (or even on the phone). Wild.

Oh, and my co-author? Angelique Jordonna. Look for her book, Dani, coming soon from http://www.rhetaskewpublishing.com. I’ve read it (yay for author sneaky-peeks!), and it’s amazing. It’s really going to be something to pick up. Trust me.

And yep, another Askew author. 🙂 We connected as fellow Askewians, and after chatting on Facebook for a while we realized how similar we are–we even wrote similar books. If you liked Whispers of Death, you’ll probably like Dani–and vice versa. 😉

We had a little bit of fun with our Editor in Chief when we got started with the new book, because Angelique is just that fun (and because hey, I’m game). She had our EiC guessing who her collaborator was, and it took a good week before she finally guessed it. Don’t get me wrong–it was all in good fun, and our EiC thought it was hilarious. The Messenger exchanges were especially funny…

I’m drawing a blank on Book 3 for now, but I think it’s because I’m not sure if I’m infodumping or not. Sometimes I get carried away with that, and I’m second guessing myself. Also, I can’t decide where to end the first chapter. I want to end it at a place where the reader wants to keep reading, but I don’t know. I’m sure I’ll come up with something for it soon. The weird thing is, I have a line I know I want in the book, but I’m not sure if it’s too early to use it yet. It’s one of those lines that’s like yeah, that would be awesome! Now I need to write the spot it goes in….

The bronchitis is inching its way out of my system, a little delayed by my forgetfulness with the medicines. I got them last night (thank you, Jeanette, for going out of your way to get my antibiotics and RA pills and crazy pills) so I’m back on the antibiotics, but I don’t know how far the two missed doses will set me back. I definitely had a hard time with the breathing and the coughing yesterday, but this morning I’m not coughing quite as much…which is good, because I seem to have misplaced my purse. I put it down when I got to the place we’re staying this weekend, but I have no clue where it went after that. It was in one place when I went to sleep, and it is clearly in another place now. So it’s a good thing I don’t need a cough drop too desperately right now, but I’ll have to find that purse as soon as my husband’s up to help me look. It has my inhaler, my keys, my wallet–my life, pretty much.

Well, missing bags, belated meds, and writer’s block aside, the weekend’s going okay. I’ll be glad to have a few free weekends coming up to chill and not be going going going. Then will come the insanity that is Estrella.


The winter wind cut through her like a knife, and she pulled her threadbare coat closed. Her fingers were a sickly shade of blue, matching her lips, and her tears turned to icicles before they could escape her lashes.

Miranda had been wandering through the streets like this for days. Food and shelter were scarce despite the large population. Who was going to give a meal to a nobody like her? Who would let someone like her live under their roof for the night? Nobody would. Those things were denied to people like Miranda.

Then she saw him: the man who would be her savior. He had clean clothes, a healthy glow to his skin, and, perhaps most importantly, kind eyes. Gullible eyes. The sort of eyes that would see Miranda’s tattered clothes and unkempt hair and immediately want to take her in and take care of her.

Their eyes met, and he granted her a dazzling smile. The first person to smile at her in a week. This was going to be too easy.

“Evening, miss. Looks like you need to get out of this cold. Would you like to come with me somewhere warm with plenty of hot food?”

Trying to force some of the frigid blood in her veins to make its way to her cheeks, Miranda found that she didn’t even have the energy to blush. She needed to get warm and fed, soon as possible. She managed a wan smile in return and nodded thanks.

Taking her hand in his, the handsome stranger introduced himself as Rick. Rick’s gloved hands took her bare ones and rubbed them until the feeling started to come back. Then, with a warm arm around her shoulder, he led her a few blocks until they came upon a two-story brick house.

The house was Rick personified: warm, comforting, inviting. Miranda especially liked the inviting part.

Rick led her across the threshold, arm still around her, and shut the door behind them.

Miranda could hardly contain herself. She could smell her dinner, and it made her mouth water. Turning to face Rick, she grabbed his shouldes and opened her mouth wide, ready to–


Rick stared at the vagrant woman’s head as it bounced on the floor like a bloody basketball. That one had been too close. Damn vamps were getting bolder. Approaching strangers on the street? Whatever happened to the days when vampires were classy and seductive? This one looked like death itself as she walked through town.

Shaking his head, Rick dropped his blade and got to work scrubbing the floorboards. Where there was one of these things, there were usually more.

He had a long night ahead of him.

Experiment, Day 4

Well, this is somewhat interesting. My day 4 numbers as far as free book downloads were more than double the day 3 numbers. Could it be that people are trying to get the book while it’s still free?

Today will be the final day of the free book promo for my novel and my two anthologies (my poetry anthology and my short story/flash fiction anthology). The horror short anthology has been doing relatively well, considering I haven’t really advertised it specifically on social media. Not nearly as well as the novel, but decent numbers for not having been talked about.

This experiment has been interesting, given that I haven’t done anything different besides putting my novel on a temporary free promotion. Does this mean that people aren’t willing to pay the price I’ve set for my novel? If so, does it mean that the price is too high, that the blurb isn’t catchy enough for them to want to pay for it, or does it just mean that people like free stuff?

Since I’m not a scientific person by nature, I’ll probably never know the answer. Still, this has been a new experience that I will probably experiment with more later on.